Monday, February 13, 2017

Canary In the Press?

(image via pixabay)

We seem to be living, as noted by many, in an anti-intellectual, anti-expert, anti-science time-frame. I’ve been tempted to write a commentary on the relatively tepid response from the STEM community to the Trump presidency, and earlier voiced dismay at how few scientists spoke out loudly and often during the election campaign (THANK YOU to those who did)… but for now, I'll refrain adding my puny voice here to the growing numbers finally speaking up, almost in a sudden panic (…now that he’s in office slowly dismantling democracy).

BUT… last week Raymond Smullyan died. I’ve been taken aback at the paucity of press for Smullyan’s passing. The NY Times finally ran an obituary 5 days after his death. Where are the articles though from the Washington Post, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, Chicago Trib, USA Today...? Obviously too, I might expect something more expansive soon from MAA, AMS, philosophy associations, and others. 
What does it say about our times (where a demagogue can not only run for president, but win) that a major proponent/author of rationality, logic, and clear thinking, passes away and is accorded so little attention. Losing Smullyan, at the age of 97, is not particularly unexpected, but the lack of coverage of this loss is discouraging. The silence is like a canary within the press dying, and indicating something awry with our values and focus. What two-bit celebrity will die next month and receive multi-columns of notice? Have we, after 200+ years, lost our way? In the word of our (so-called) President, it is “sad.”

1 comment:

.mau. said...

Even if Smullyan published books until last year, I think his pop fame was in the 80s: this could be a reason why there are so few obituaries. I am startled that the Washington Post did not have one, but as for the other newspapers it's just a matter of "things of the past", rather than canary. After all, I don't think that neither the Donald nor his friends care a damn whether the press writes or not about Smullyan!